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Recently, my attention was drawn to a post by a former colleague—a vice-president who is highly-esteemed in his field. He posed the question of how to find the organizational “unicorns”—those who are simultaneously excellent at their work while also being good for/with/leading those (s)he works with

Here’s how I responded:


Statement: “In my field, some of the best professionals I know are among the worst staff and department managers and some of the best managers are among the worst front-line producers. It’s rare to find the professional capable of succeeding in both spheres. Elevating the technical star into the C-Suite officer role can be tricky and fraught with peril.”


Response: “What you’re describing is not a challenge—it’s simply a story of leadership gaps. The leadership gaps you're describing occur frequently throughout many types of organizations of all sizes and complexities. It is possible to maintain the individual's strengths while strengthening their under-developed and under-utilized leadership capabilities. Coaching is a key element to building the bridge between these leadership gaps, and easing positional up-transitions within these organizations for the good of all involved.”


The 21st Century Leadership Challenge

21st Century organizations must live in the land of AND, not OR.


When you ask, “how can I choose between technical excellence and human-connection excellence?”, my answer is simply, “You Can’t.”


A house without a strong foundation will crumble. A house without strong framing will collapse. Both are required to remain strong over time and circumstances.


Your organization is just like a house—a strong foundation and strong framing are both required to remain strong over time and circumstances.



Question: In your organization, what do you think is the foundation, and what do you think is the framing?



· Foundation = Relationship with People (internal/external).

· Framing = Strategies to authentically connect with people.


“Your organization will stand strong over time or collapse depending on how willing and able  you and your leaders are to authentically connect with those within (teams) and outside (customers/clients) your organization.”


How Your Organization Will Succeed in the 21st Century 

Unlike the manufacturing economy of the 20th century, the 21st Century is marked by the service economy. Characterized by continuous technological innovation, 24/7 access to services, frequently-instantaneous delivery, heightened (and nearly-impossible) expectations, and a near-infinite number of options for the consumer, meeting the market’s demand requires continuous leadership innovation.

Add to these factors the stratification of market consumers—demographic, geographic, age, economic—and many leaders long for the simplicity of early 20th century management.

But, there is no going back. What worked before does not work today, and many leaders are struggling to find their way to meet the market’s needs, and the needs of their teams.

The role of the leader has evolved over the past 50+ years. No longer is the “leader-as-manager” sufficient to create sustainable growth. “Command and control” leaders—a leadership archetype patterned after World War II military leadership—is giving way to a new leader archetype: The Leader as Alchemist.


Your Role as a 21st Century Leader

 21st Century leadership is collaborative—it relies on the combined genius of many types of leaders in matrixed integration to achieve 21st century results. Failure to recognize and address this collaboration is the source of many companies’—and their leaders’—struggles.


Many leaders who rose through the ranks over the past two decades patterned their leadership after 20th century styles. And now, they often struggle to learn how to balance their leadership and communication style in the 2020s—to step into their executive role as a leader while still serving as a leadership alchemist with the ability to mine gold from others.


Building the Bridge – Executive Development + Leadership Intelligence

Many leaders are now forced to adapt—to discover how to live in AND not OR—and to build a bridge to span their own leadership gaps, rather than simply requiring others to span the gap to meet the leader where they are. This is collaborative leadership.


The secret to 21st century leadership is to be willing to accurately look/assess where you are as a leader, where your people are, and to each build bridges to meet in the middle.


How do you build the bridge? The answer is by centering Leadership Intelligence (LQ)—the heart of 21st century leadership.


What is Leadership Intelligence? Leadership Intelligence (LQ) is the assessment + practice of each individual’s ability to effectively lead themselves and others in a wholistic manner


We will examine LQ in more detail next time.



If this leadership concern rings true for you, contact me today to schedule a complimentary, confidential discussion.


For more than two decades, heads of state, CEOs and Executive Leaders around the world have sought me out to serve as their trusted advisor, create breakthroughs by discovering better ways to do and be, and contribute solutions that make a difference in the lives of others.


Let’s discuss how best to co-design a different, more effective way of leading for you that yields greater results and legacy, with increased fulfillment, satisfaction, and peace of mind.





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